h AlpsHL

Alessio Niccolai (r.) put the Fuggerstadt team on the road to victory. © Oskar Brunner

Unleashed wild horses make Vipiteno freak out

The South Tyrolean semi-finals in the Alps Hockey League are completely open again! The Wipptal Broncos defeated the Rittner Buam in front of a record home crowd and literally caused the Vipiteno air dome to shake. Now the cards in the duel are being reshuffled.

From the Weihenstephan Arena in Vipiteno

Alexander Foppa

It wasn't Justin Maylan, not Connor Sanvido, not Adam Capannelli or any of the other offensive stars who shot the Broncos to their first semi-final victory. No, it was the young Alessio Niccolai (22 years old) and Alex Zecchetto (23) who were primarily responsible for the 4-2 win and for the fact that this series suddenly became incredibly explosive. The two match winners were celebrated like heroes by the 600 spectators (season record) in the full Weihenstephan Arena.

“Minimize individual mistakes, then we have good chances,” said Vipiteno’s goalie Jakob Rabanser said in advance in a SportNews interview. And that's exactly how the Fuggerstadt team played on Thursday evening. The Rittners, who lined up with the best line-up, were sometimes superior to the field, always being compact and physical as usual. However, the Broncos, driven by the tireless Fabian Hackhofer, who was honored before the start of the game for his 650th appearance in the WSV jersey, held on for 60 minutes. And they didn't make any mistakes.

The first third went exactly to the guests' liking: Wipptal set a high pace from the start, but remained harmless in the offensive third. Ritten's only real pinprick, however, was right. In the 17th minute, Robert Öhler directed an Amorosa shot into the net. Jakob Prast increased the 1-0 lead after the restart with a shot from the right face-off circle (24th) - much to the delight of the loud visiting fans.

Applause from Andy Bernard

Rittner's 2-0 win was also a wake-up call for the Broncos, who now attacked the opposing goal with much more vehemence - and with success. During a 4-on-4 situation, Bryson Cianfrone danced his way into the opponent's third and sent the disc into the top corner (31'). But that wasn't enough: a short time later, James Livingston ignited the rocket. His hammer shot fizzed into the net to make it 2-2 (37').

The great Broncos show continued in the final third. First Rabanser shone with a mega save against Markus Spinell, then even Pustertal's national goalkeeper and onlooker Andy Bernard applauded behind the plexiglass. Then Alessio Niccolai raised the mood in the hall. He shot in the slot and aimed it well under the crossbar (55th). It was the first tour of Vipiteno. HCP loanee Alex Zecchetto expanded this further just 27 seconds later. He directed a shot from birthday boy Daniel Soraruf (he turned 23 on Thursday) into the goal. That was the end of this exciting game.

Not only the South Tyrolean semi-final has been reset since this Thursday evening, but also the one between Cortina and Salzburg's second representation. The traditional club from the posh ski resort won 3-2 away.

AlpsHL semifinals, game 2:

Wipptal Broncos – Rittner Buam 4:2
Gates: 0:1 Robert Öhler (16.22), 0:2 Prast (23.28), 1:2 Cianfrone (30.59), 2:2 Livingston (36.22), 3:2 Niccolai (54.26), 4:2 Zecchetto (56.53)
Viewers: 597
Best of 7 series: 1:1

Red Bull Juniors – SG Cortina 2:3
Gates: 1:0 Vinzens (9.26), 1:1 Di Tomaso (25.25), 1:2 Traversa (27.29), 1:3 Parini (38.35), 2:3 Hörl (41.02)
Viewers: 170
Best of 7 series: 1:1


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